Young People For (YP4), a program of People For the American Way Foundation, is a year-long leadership development program that helps a diverse set of student leaders turn their idealism into actions that advance social change on their campuses and in their communities. YP4 Fellows design and implement a capstone project called the Blueprint for Social Justice.
We’ll be highlighting the work of some of our outstanding Fellows here. This month, we’re pleased to introduce Crystal Obiukwu, representing Ohio State University.
“My Blueprint is a program that will teach young women, specifically teens, about reproductive justice and how to advocate for reproductive justice in their communities… I want to live in a world that truly embodies progressive values. I want a country where everyone has the ability to reach their full potential. I really want a world that is democratic and people oriented.
“I’ve mainly been involved in the feminist community and the reproductive rights community on my campus. I am starting to get involved in anti-racist work and I’ve been involved with my schools Occupy movement. I feel like my life experience and my identity as a Nigerian American woman brings a new perspective. Right now my university is dealing with a lot of hate crimes and racism on campus. We had a person come to a Trayvon Martin and Shaima Alawadi vigil with a gun holster to intimidate activists, “Long Live Zimmerman” was spray painted on the Black cultural center on campus, and swastikas and the n-word were spray painted on an Obama mural in an area near students and a predominantly black neighborhood. This all happened within 48 hours. Previously an Islamaphobic ad that was funded by an extreme right-wing group was placed in our newspaper.
“Activist, students, and faculty immediately held an impromptu meeting after the 2nd hate crime had occurred. Two actions and a list of 3 demands were created. The next day we had over 200 students and activist go to the board of trustees meeting to read our demands and make them address racism on campus. Our demands were 1) have hate crime alerts go out to students so they can be informed about racism on campus, 2) have diversity be a priority at Ohio State with a diverse body of students and faculty that is representative of the country’s population, and 3) inclusion not tolerance; we want a campus that is genuinely inclusive of all kinds of students. We also had a sit-in in our student union until our first demand was met.
“All of the great student activists around me who do amazing work inspire me. The fact that they can be both students and accomplish incredible things inspires me to do my best as an activist.”